Christmas is a special time for families—but that doesn’t mean it’s always an easy time. Gathering with relatives over the holidays can either be pleasant or painful, magical or mayhem. While you have great anticipation in seeing some of your loved ones, other members of your family tree may make you cringe.
Picture the family line of a good friend of mine. If the whole gang could somehow be brought together for a family reunion, I can only imagine the sparks that would fly.
- One of my friend’s female ancestors slept with her father-in-law and bore him twin boys.
- Another member of the family tree was a prostitute, known for being a very convincing liar.
- The family line included someone from a despised ethnic group that had its origins in incest between a father and daughter.
- Two ancestors were involved in an adulterous relationship, and the man ultimately killed his lover’s husband to keep the affair from being discovered.
- Several ancestors had multiple wives, and others were known for worshiping idols.
And you think you have some crazies in your family lineage?! The good news is that God is able to redeem terrible situations like these and transform them with His amazing grace.
How do I know? Because the Friend I’m referring to is Jesus.
Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1 reveals all of the sinful and dysfunctional ancestors I’ve described, and yet this was the human lineage of the Son of God. Instead of being able to boast of a spotless family lineage, the Bible describes our spotless Lord and Savior as “a root out of dry ground” (Isaiah 53:2).
So what does this mean for you and me? Several things:
- Experiencing and extending God’s grace. We need to experience God’s grace and then extend it to our imperfect, dysfunctional family members—just as we’re hopeful they will offer grace to cover our If the twisted members of Jesus’ family tree could find grace enough to become a part of His royal lineage, then surely there’s hope for our weird relatives as well.
- No more blame-shifting. It’s time to quit blaming others and making excuses for our past. Sure, your family upbringing may have been a mess. But God stands ready to turn your MESS into your MESSAGE—if you’ll let Him. Through divine intervention, your family tree can undergo a new beginning today. You don’t have to fall into the same old sins and strongholds of your earthly heritage, because you’ve been redeemed from the “futile way of life inherited from your forefathers” (1 Peter 1:18). In Christ, you’re a new creation, no matter who your earthly ancestors were (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Facing the facts. If I were writing the book of Matthew, I would have been tempted to doctor the records and “sanitize” Jesus’ family tree. Couldn’t Matthew have just listed all the success stories and none of the embarrassments of Jesus’ ancestors? Yet the beauty of the gospel is that it transforms sinners—people like you and me. If people were already perfect, they wouldn’t need to be transformed. So the next time you wish you could erase some names from your family tree, think again. Face the truth, and let it set you free (John 8:32).
As God’s grace and mercy fill your heart this Christmas, I pray you will enjoy your family members and your heritage more than ever before. May the Lord use you to bring hope and healing to those who need it most.